Militant group hits House move to ease land ownership restrictions

Two significant events related to land ownership happened yesterday – one that launched a movement to honor land reform, and the other, the approval on second reading of a House Resolution on foreign ownership of land and utilities.

Launched was the Philippine Land Reform Movement (PLRM) at the University of the Philippines at Diliman (UP-Diliman).

Meanwhile, at the House of Representatives, Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 (RBH 1), authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., was approved on second reading. RBH 1 seeks to ease the restrictions on foreign ownership of land, to boost foreign investments.

  The Philippine chapter of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) said even as PLRM was being launched at the UP Diliman, “Belmonte and his cohorts were crafting the dismantling of the domestic economy,” said ILPS-Phils, a human rights group.

 The group claimed that RBH 1 will pave the way for the removal of the protectionist provisions of the 1987 Constitution. The group said that RBH 1 seeks to scrap the constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership of land, resources, utilities and other key industries.

 “The so-called economic charter change (Cha-cha) is opening the floodgates for more land grab, speculation and domination by local billionaires and foreign monopolies of the country’s economy,” ILPS-Phils chairman Elmer Labog said.

 “This will aggravate not only an economic slowdown but is sure to result in worsening poverty, hunger and misery for majority of Filipinos,” he added.

 More than 1.2 million hectares are already under onerous agribusiness contracts, the group said.

Based on data from the National Statistics Office (NSO), a total of 872,892 hectares of agricultural lands have been converted to other uses.

Extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program would expand the coverage of land reform exemption, exclusion and conversion by 700,000 hectares.

Land lease arrangements, including leases by foreign transnational corporations, covered 1.7 million hectares from 1988 to 2012.

 “Cha-cha’s 100-percent foreign ownership of lands is directly in contrast with fundamental land reform demanded by the people.  It will directly impact the nation’s development and sustainability,” the group added.

 “We are resolute, together with the patriotic and progressive sectors, to oppose and thwart Aquino’s Cha-cha,” ILPS-Phils declared.

RBH 1 is titled as “Proposing amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines particularly on Articles II, XII and XVI.”  One of the reasons for the amendment said that “in order to realize the full benefit of inclusive growth, the restrictive economic provisions in the Philippine Constitution which hamper the flow of foreign capital investments must be lifted.”

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